Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The missing piece for a sustainable game monetization

I've been thinking about a pay-to-win free game monetization. Sure, we can daydream about "everyone pays the same" subscription, but it won't come back. It didn't leave because of evil suits, it left because players bought gold from illicit sellers when it was forbidden and bought legally en masse when it was accepted, pricing the in-game advantage higher than game access. Deal with it! It's players who want to buy "winning", not developers want to sell it.

We've also seen that PvP and market economy are mutually exclusive. If you can buy an item from another player, you are better of not fighting him for it, but do your own optimized farming and trade the resources you got for it. I even offered the "perfect" game economy: one where you can only trade with guildmates. This would allow cooperation between the team, but force fighting with every other teams for resources.

The missing piece was inserting monetization into this scheme! So here it is: everyone must pay subscription with money or token, and you can get token only from your guildmates. You can also buy "time saving" powerups from the shop with tokens, but you can't buy direct power. This guarantees the following things:
  • Every guild is money-neutral, therefore the game designers have no reasons to rig the game for some teams.
  • Whales and players are integrated, the guild needs both to be able to function. A guild of players cannot log in, a guild of whales cannot spend for power. The free players won't be leeches on the game but active entertainers of a paying player, who chooses to pay for their service. Non-paying players must cater to paying ones, increasing their satisfaction with the game. If you lose your whale, you can farm all the gold, there is no one to trade it with.
  • Goldselling can be tolerated without damage to the game. Currently a goldseller is capable to sell to the whole playerbase, being very rich. If trading is guild-only, he can only sell to the local whales.
  • You can't pay to win to the top, as by spending more, you can let guildmates/alts log in more, progress faster, but the guild power is still limited by their skill. Just because you give a million dollars to a bunch of noobs, they will still not be able to carry you to victory.
The unique selling point of MMOs are large groups. Till this point, monetization was contrary to the group cohesion. I felt it first-hand in EVE - even without rigging - when I could make all the money I needed and get all the tokens I needed with trading, having no use for a team. With this change, monetization will actually help form "friendships" between people, uniting them. This would mirror the real world scene where the rich guy pays for the bowling field and the beers in order to have fun with his friends.

PS: of course for this to work, guild sizes must be limited or else there will be just one giga-guild per server.


Anonymous said...

TIL most MMOs have p2w.

How is WoW, ESO, LOTRO etc P2W?

Gevlon said...

Tokens that you can turn to gold that you can use to buy boost raids.

Anonymous said...

Tying guild size to paying could be advantageous and solve the guild size problem; I.e. each guild slot (or bunch of them) after some point would cost gold/real money/tokens and in somewhat increasing rate.
However, in what kind of game would your guild-economy system really work? PvP oriented players seem to like smaller groups and play 'match' style games; FPS (Counter Strike) or mobas.
On other side is theme park MMOs which are quite saturated already and I don't really see the advantage of implementing this guild system in 'classic' theme park style game. I would predict most of socials and MS not liking the restrictions caused by such guild-economy.
Only niche I can think up is collective competitive raiding which is popular (I think) in Asia. Sure there is competitive raiding in WoW on west too, but that is quite limited in total population of players. (Less than 1000?)

To total this up; In what kind of game would you think your guild-economy would work?

Anonymous said...

What is to stop a neutral trading guild bring set up, letting alts apply in and out to do trading ?

Anonymous said...

There is a social game for mobile called Monster Legends. It is a typical collect and feed type of game with social interaction being limited to sending your friends in game useless stuff. They recently introduced Teams, up to 30 people per team. They allow you to "fight" against other teams. None of this is interesting. They put a feature in called "relay race", this feature is very much like this post. Essentially you race against other teams, your team gets ahead by pay-to-win models, and if you have one or two whales on your team you move ahead more quickly. The end prize is essentially a new collectible monster, which is the goal of the game in general. Might be interesting to get your feedback on how well this matches what you are describing.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: like in BDO, your alts are linked and the whole account is member of a guild. You can have multiple accounts, but if they are in different guilds, they can't trade with each other.